Mommy Points has a couple of great pieces on her blog about family travel.
The first is about families trying to get seats on a flight together. I think she makes some good points in the post, especially about trying to get some level of elite status with an airline. For me, this is one of the reasons I’m pursuing lifetime status with multiple programs. I want to be able to retain these benefits in the future.
The second most important thing here is to book early if seating together is a critical issue for you. Another point to keep in mind though is that airlines don’t actually guarantee your seating assignment in most cases, especially when you’re not paying them more money for a specific seat. So, it’s important to keep an eye on your reservations periodically to make sure your seating assignments didn’t disappear.
It is interesting that airlines are maximizing revenue in so many different areas in spite of the possible negative impact on customers that can’t afford to buy seats together. UA has been moving to a program that rewards higher revenue customers as opposed to the volume of flights, so maybe they aren’t focusing at all on the person buying those ultra-low cost fares. As Gary from View From The Wing likes to say, lots of those passengers are buying “at the margin”, taking seats that are unlikely to be sold, albeit at lower prices, but without much opportunity costs for the airline. So, at some point, driving these people away really does drive away profit.
As referenced in MommyPoints’ post, an article by Scott Mayerowitz was the inspiration for this post and well worth reading.
MommyPoints also has some info that seems to indicate United is no longer allowing pre-boarding for families with small children (unless you have status that would grant you that benefit).
I keep thinking I should be surprised by the business strategies being deployed by United. And yet, they keep finding ways to lower the bar. Shouldn’t be long before there’s a fee to have a wheelchair down the jet bridge.
I’m curious to hear what people think, both families and business travelers alike. Does it really seem like a better idea NOT to pre-board families with small children?